Long read article: Who was Queen Shrimala and Why is the Shrimaladevi Sutra important?

The Shrimaladevi Sutra is a very important source for our tradition that goes right back to a person who lived at the time of Shakyamuni. It is great that that person is actually a woman and not a monastic.  That feels very refreshing somehow. I don’t say that because I am a woman particularly. I think everyone, men and women, like to see that it is not just men and not just monastics that are powerful practitioners… Continue reading Long read article: Who was Queen Shrimala and Why is the Shrimaladevi Sutra important?

unrecognizable pilgrims touching prayer wheels in ancient temple in nepal

What Does Accumulating ‘Merit’ Mean? Understanding Punya & that we are punya itself

Punya is rather misleadingly translated as merit but since punya belongs to us, it is our personal wealth and power, which we can give away for the benefit of others. In order to give to others in a way that will truly benefit them, we have to think about what is the most effective way of using our punya… Continue reading What Does Accumulating ‘Merit’ Mean? Understanding Punya & that we are punya itself

time lapse photography of people walking on pedestrian lane

Three Ordinary Ideas Called into Question by Karma in Buddhism

There are three ordinary ideas that we have that make karma seem particularly strange but which are ultimately called into question in Buddhism. The first is that people are very separate from the material world; the second is that the present and the future are very separate; the third is that different beings and different locations in space are very separate. Continue reading Three Ordinary Ideas Called into Question by Karma in Buddhism

Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

Saying their name, it’s as if we are invoking them and then recognising that they have a power to connect to you. If it’s an Enlightened Being, they have the power to connect you to your own Awakening, the Mandala of Awakening. You could call it the ‘Samadhi of Awakening’. The Pure Lands are a special kind if samadhis created by Awakened beings for other beings to enter. So they are actually a special kind of shamatha and vipassana. Continue reading Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

Long Read Part 1: What is a Pure Land? And Why pray to be reborn there?

First of all we need to know what a Pure Land is and what it means. Eventually we learn that the pure land is nothing other than our true nature. The pure land manifests in the heart when we realise that our true nature is our Buddha nature. So why call this a pure land? Why a place? We are Buddha nature. We are expressions of Buddha nature so why talk about it as if it were a Pure Land? Eventually it’s a matter of seeing this world we are in now as being the Pure Land. Continue reading Long Read Part 1: What is a Pure Land? And Why pray to be reborn there?

Buddhist water offering bowls meaning

What do the bowls of water on a shrine represent?

There are many other ways that we can show our appreciation and respect in the shrine room as well as in practice situations by gestures of honouring and appreciation as we encounter the sacred. One way to do this is to place gifts on your shrine. We use the Tibetan tradition that comes from India of offering seven or eight bowls of water. Continue reading What do the bowls of water on a shrine represent?

Making space for ‘Gaps’: Are you filling up every moment of your day doing something or distracting yourself, so there are no gaps?

We can train ourselves to notice the impulse to fill up every moment so that there are no gaps – the disease of our age – and we could let that go sometimes.  Instead, we could start programming gaps into our day. Relaxed unfocused awareness is the very ground of our being; it is that space that we both long for and are terrified of.  We must be careful not to use our Dharma practice as another way to distract ourselves from this great ‘nowhereness’ that is right under our noses and that we are trying to deny. Continue reading Making space for ‘Gaps’: Are you filling up every moment of your day doing something or distracting yourself, so there are no gaps?

Introducing the Power of Pranidhanas – the power of our wishes and intentions

This power of making pranidhanas – the power of our intention and our resolve, is important for us to understand right from the start of the path because it’s is the same power we use when we decide we are going to do anything at all, such as meditate every day, or follow the path to Awakening. This power of our resolve is a power inherent to our awareness and something we have immediate access to. Continue reading Introducing the Power of Pranidhanas – the power of our wishes and intentions